Ja/Caricom and the G20 Summit

Ja/Caricom and the G20 Summit

When US President Donald Trump meets his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the margins of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, nothing less than a reasonably healthy global trading system and continued economic growth will be on the table.

On November 30 and December 1, Jamaica, representing the Caribbean Community (Caricom), will join the members of the Group of Twenty (G20) and other invited guests at the 13th Summit in Buenos Aires, hosted by the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri. Argentina is the current president of the G20 and is working under the theme 'Building consensus for fair and sustainable development'. The summit is also marking its 10th anniversary, as the first was held in November 2008 at the time of the global financial crisis.

The G20 comprises of the most influential countries in the global economy. There are 19 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA, and the European Union (EU) as a regional group. Their focus is on coordinating global economic policy.

Jamaica, as current chair of Caricom, has had the privilege of representing the regional group at prestigious meetings — the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada, June 8-9; the Summit of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Group (the BRICS), Johannesburg, South Africa, July 25-27; and now the G20.

Commencing in December 2017, Jamaica has been able to fully participate in the year-long G20 preparatory process. The Jamaican delegation has thus engaged in discussions on issues of interest to the region, among them climate change, energy, trade and investment, education, and financing.

Speaking about representing Caricom at these meetings, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the United Nations General Assembly in September that Jamaica welcomed the opportunity to share perspectives with strong economic partners to ensure that they understood the risks faced by Caricom members, mainly small developing countries. In his view, concerted global action had to include:

• effective strategies to bolster the global financial system;

• a robust global campaign to identify funding for implementing the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and

• resilience and adaptation measures to address the devastating effects of climate change and natural disasters.

Recall that critical means of financing implementation of the UN SDGs are partnerships in development financing and trade. For small, middle-income countries, like those in Caricom, the ability to expand trade, as a means of financing, should be taking on greater importance.

As Argentina counts down to the start of the summit, the concern now is whether this 13th summit will be successful in consensus building or whether 13 will be an unlucky number.

The summit is expected to be attended by all G20 members, including US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, both in the midst of a trade row. It is anticipated that Trump and Xi will have bilateral trade talks aimed at resolving their dispute and boosting investor confidence. Also expected to attend, surrounded by controversy, are the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Among the specially invited guests are Chile, Jamaica (Caricom), the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea (APEC), Rwanda (African Union), Senegal (New Partnership for Africa's Development), Singapore (ASEAN), and Spain (permanent invitee).

You will recall that the G7 Summit did not end well. In fact, the US president, on his early departure, annoyed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, withdrew his endorsement of the communiqué. The Papua New Guinea Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), November 17-18, was not attended by President Trump, but ended without consensus on the communiqué. The sticking point with the US Delegation was, again, trade. A positive might be that President Trump attended the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg and, in spite of disagreements on climate change and trade, there was a communiqué.

At this point, the cast of players to participate and recent developments should be causing anxiety for the host. It is reported that already there are difficulties with the text of the draft communiqué, not surprisingly in the section on trade. This summit will most certainly be a test of the skills in consensus-building of the Argentine president and his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Jorge Faurie. For a little help in finding consensus, they may need to utilise the worship part of the portfolio and request a prayer of intercession from Pope Francis, an Argentine national.

After a year of preparations, I hope that, as desired by Argentina, there can be focus on issues of interest to developing countries, and that Prime Minister Holness will have the opportunity to reinforce Caricom's case and to have some very useful bilateral meetings.

I do pray that “13” will bring success on this 10th anniversary, demonstrating that the G20 is a useful global forum.

Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade and politics.

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